Why It Works
- A flavorful mayonnaise-based mixture binds tender pieces of crabmeat for a luxurious dip.
- Tossing the bread crumbs with melted butter makes them brown more beautifully and improves their flavor.
Crab imperial is everything Maryland crab cakes aren't, in the best possible way. It's loaded with seasonings, like Old Bay, lemon, and mustard; has a delightfully creamy consistency; and sports a crispy, crunchy topping of golden buttered bread crumbs. It won't hold its shape as a crab cake, but it doesn't need to—and it's much easier to make.
- 1 pound (450g) special or lump crabmeat, picked over for shells
- 1/2 cup (120ml) mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon, plus grated zest of half a lemon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 small shallot, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (1 ounce; 30g)
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
- Baguette toasts, saltines, or other crackers, for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In a medium bowl, stir together crabmeat, mayonnaise, Dijon, lemon juice and zest, parsley, Old Bay, and shallot until evenly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, stir bread crumbs with melted butter until evenly coated. Season with salt.
Pack crab mixture in a 1-quart baking or gratin dish, then layer buttered bread crumbs evenly on top. Set on top of a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crab mixture is heated through and bread crumbs are golden, about 20 minutes. Serve with toasts or crackers, if desired.
Rimmed baking sheet, 1-quart gratin or baking dish